First Lines Friday

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

For as long as she could remember, Emmeline Widget had been sure her parents were trying to kill her.

Any ideas?

arrows

arrows

arrows

 

Eye

This is one of my favourite ever middle-grade books and is the story that re-ignited my love of middle-grade, so it will always be a very special book for me.  I was lucky enough to meet the author, Sinead O’Hart at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival and got a dedicated copy for my class.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.  Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too. Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?

 

Review: Sam Wu is NOT afraid of SPACE

Review - Sam Wu

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Space is the sixth and final book in this popular series, and is a really wonderful, fun-filled adventure which is sure to make its young readers want to visit Space Camp too.  Who am I kidding?  It made me want to go too!

After watching Sam’s favourite show, Space Blasters, and realising how much he loves space, Sam and his best friends Barnard and Zoe are invited to Space Camp by twins, Ralph and Regina.  Once there, they form a team of six alongside the rather reluctant and unenthusiastic Sally Doyle.  Will Sam be able to convince Sally to become a team player and help them win the Space Camp Challenge trophy?

The teams at Space Camp compete against each other in a series of challenges to help them learn more about life as an astronaut.  The first challenge does not get off to a good start, but things are about to get a whole lot worse for Sam and his team when special possessions go missing … who, or what, is causing mischief at Space Camp?

The layout is perfect to engage younger and more reluctant readers with the use of bold text, word capitalisation within the text, footnotes (which are brilliant!) within chapters and lots of gorgeous, lively illustrations.

Sam Wu is an incredibly likeable and realistic character, taking on a leadership role within his group. He understands the importance of letting people play to their strengths and letting others shine whilst also supporting those who may be less confident.  I love that the children really learn to work as a team and encourage each other as they meet challenges and face fears and worries which are exactly the sort of worries their audience are likely to have such as missing home and being worried about letting others down.  Sam still feels nervous and afraid at times, but he also shows bravery when facing his fears and helping his friends:

                       “The more you face your fears, the less scary they become.”

There are lots of fascinating space facts sprinkled throughout the text which I really enjoyed reading.  My favourite was learning that pizza was delivered to the International Space Station.

This is a brilliantly humorous and heart-warming adventure showing the importance of friendship and teamwork and is a must-read for any young adventurers who I have no doubt will love visiting Space Camp with Sam and his friends as much as I did.

 

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Egmont for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

MG Takes on Thursday

header3

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

 

WS
Author: Vashti Hardy
Cover Illustration: George Ermos   
Publisher: Scholastic

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

“Prue took a deep breath, pushed all the doubt down into the pit of her stomach, and started walking.”

This book in three words:

ADVENTURE, AWE-INSPIRING, FRIENDSHIP

Wildspark is one of my absolute favourite middle-grade books.  The story-telling is incredible and took me on a thrilling adventure full of twists that kept me on the edge of my seat.  I really, really hope that the author returns to this world.

Prue is overwhelmed by grief at the devastating loss of her older brother Francis.  But what if she could find a way to bring her adored brother back? A seemingly chance encounter with Craftsman Primrose from the Imperial Personifate Guild of Medlock offers her just that as he offers her an apprenticeship.

Once apprenticed, she is determined to use her superb engineering talent to bring her brother back into her life.  How?  The Guild have perfected the ability to bring people back from the dead and place them in the bodies of animal personifates, but they have no memories of their previous lives.  Can Prue bring her brother back with his memories intact?

It is not long before Prue and her friends, Agapantha and Edwin (who is the first personificate apprentice) make some startling discoveries which lead them on an action-packed adventure to save the City of Medlock – but who is the enemy?  What terrors lurk in the depths of the forest?  The tension is palpable as the plot twists thicken, the threat increases, loyalties are questioned, and heart-breaking decisions have to be made.

This is an absolute must read book which I cannot recommend highly enough.  You can read my full review here.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wed

I’m almost finished listening to Murder Most Unladylike which I’m really enjoying, although not so much that I feel the need to pick up the rest of the series.  Not sure if this is because it’s an audiobook and I’ve been listening to it in sections.  I’m also continuing to read Small Spaces for the Book Club I am part of.  It is brilliantly spooky.  I’ve just started The Beast and the Bethany which I’m already getting great vibes from.

Dragon Mountain

I’ve only read one book this week as I spent the week in Ireland visiting my family so I only really got to read at the airport and on the plane.  I really loved this story which builds a sense of anticipation brilliantly and the twists are perfect and unexpected.  It will be part of a series, and the ending left me desperate for the next one.

I am going to try to focus on review books I have been sent and on clearing my NetGalley approvals for the rest of August.  I’m going to be reading the final book in the Sam Wu series, Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Space and The Haunting of Aveline Jones next.

Have you read any of these?  What are you reading?

Blog Tour: Time School: We Will Honour Them by Nikki Young

Thank you to Helen at Literally Public Relations for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and for providing me with a copy of Time School:  We Will Honour Them in exchange for my honest opinion.

honour
Published by Hashtag Press on 23rd July          Cover Design by Kate Turner  and Cover Illustration by Tim Budgen

 

This is the second book in the Time School series which follows four friends as they travel back to periods in history which have a special connection to each of them. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

I absolutely loved this gripping time travel adventure which transported me back to a period not long after the end of the Second World War, when its effects were still being strongly felt, which I found absolutely fascinating. It is really wonderful to read a story which both entertains and educates and this story balances both aspects perfectly with a real sense of adventure, discovery and history.

Twelve-year-old Nadia Kaminski has received the sad news that her Polish Grandfather has died. He came to England as a young boy, and it is only when asked to give the eulogy at his funeral that Nadia realises she doesn’t really know much about either his life or her own Polish heritage. This is such a pertinent and powerful reminder of the importance of getting to know the stories of our ancestors and connecting with family history so that we don’t lose our link to the past.

Nadia tells her friends of her loss as they board an old-fashioned steam train. They arrive in an icy, cold Hickley Town and make their way to their current school, but it is not quite as they know it … they have been transported back to the school as it was a couple of years after the end of the Second World War where they find themselves in a race to stop Nadia’s life from unravelling due to a decision being made in the past, a race which sees them uncover some incredible discoveries …

At Hickley School, Nadia witnesses a Polish refugee, Marcel, suffering terrible bullying due to the prejudices of others which led to both hatred and fear which manifested itself in this cruel treatment. Nadia immediately defends Marcel against his attackers, showing her inner strength and sense of fairness. She is courageous in facing her fears and standing up for others regardless of the consequences for herself. Has she been sent back in time to meet Marcel and, if so, why? Will she be able to help him overcome his bullies, and will he be able to help her learn more of her Polish heritage?

I really enjoyed the friendship between Nadia, Jess, Tomma and Ash. They have very different personalities from the adventurous, risk-taking joker Ash to the sensible, wary, more reluctant Jess, but they have a wonderfully strong and secure friendship where they look out for each other, offering comfort and support. I thought it was really wonderful to see the changing dynamics within the friendship between Nadia and Jess as more of an interest in boys occurs, and think this is brilliantly written for its audience.

I loved the richly drawn historical context, making connections between present and past, and the link between the children’s present-day school and what that school was like in the past. Stories like this powerfully illustrate how our history reflects and impacts on our present, and the lessons that can be learned if only we are willing to learn them.

This is a fast-paced, engrossing adventure dealing with themes of bullying, prejudice, grief and refugees. It is also an uplifting story of courage, resilience and friendship showing the connectedness between past and present which I found utterly compelling.

author

Author website: http://www.nikkiyoung.co.uk/
Author social media: https://twitter.com/nikki_cyoung
https://www.facebook.com/Nikkiyoungwriter
https://www.instagram.com/nikkiyoungwriter/

Check out the other stops for this brilliant book:

Blog tour

20 Books of Summer: Book 10

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
Published on 3rd September 2020
Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

I read this immediately after finishing The Highland Falcon Thief, and it was such a treat to read both books back-to-back as this is a series I’m absolutely loving, and can’t wait to read more of. 

This time Harrison Beck (Hal) is travelling aboard the California Comet with his Uncle Nat, a travel journalist, who has been invited to attend a press conference by technological entrepreneur, August Reza.  Hal has barely arrived before he meets siblings Mason and Hadley, who are outgoing and friendly, and have talents which will prove useful for the mystery Hal soon finds himself intent on solving …

He also meets the rather unhappy and lonely daughter of the billionaire, August Reza.  Marianne befriends Hal and warns him that she is in danger so, when he witnesses her kidnapping and finds a ransom note, he is determined to use his detective skills to save her.

Who has kidnapped Marianne, and is the motive as obvious as it appears?   This story is packed full of suspects, clever clues, tantalising puzzles and intrigue, and sets up a delicious trail to follow, a trail which leads to startling revelations and danger.

I enjoyed every moment aboard The California Comet and thoroughly enjoyed both the mystery and the description of the places the journey takes them, especially the Rocky Mountains.  It really makes me yearn to travel this route aboard the real-life California Zephyr and, hopefully, one day I’ll be able to do just that. 

I loved the rich assortment of characters, and how they could all be perceived as shady from the bearded-dragon owner Adie Cabbage to the brief-case carrying Seymour Hart to the wrestling lover, Gene Jackson.  I also loved Hadley’s magic tricks and how these were used to help in the investigation of the crime but, most of all, I LOVE the way Hal uses his sketchbook to gather and analyse evidence, and how his drawings are perfectly captured by illustrator Elisa Paganelli. 

Hal is a wonderful character who is quick to develop friendships with others. He is naturally curious, extremely observant and full of determination, all of which are perfect attributes for a budding detective. Even when adults are not prepared to listen to him or take him seriously, he perseveres and follows the evidence.

This is a brilliantly clever, exciting and engrossing mystery which will undoubtedly take its readers on a wonderful adventure, puzzling and searching for clues, as they try to solve this classic whodunnit.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

September Middle-grade releases

There are a LOT of wonderful middle-grade books being released during September, so I’ve decided to do a post to highlight the ones I want to get, and there’s a lot I want to get. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a few proofs, but I always want to get the final copy as well. These are the current release dates which can change, but as it’s getting closer to September, I’m hoping these will all be released on schedule.

Synopsis: Kate and her younger brother Tom lead desperately uninteresting lives. And judging by their desperately uninteresting parents, the future isn’t much more promising. If only life was like it is in books, where you have adventures, and save the world! Even Kate’s 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane — that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating birthday present of all time: a real-life steam locomotive called The Silver Arrow. Kate and Tom’s parents quite sensibly tell him to take it back, but Kate and Tom have other ideas — and so does The Silver Arrow — and very soon they’re off on a mysterious journey along magical rails. On their way, they pick up a pack of talking animals: a fishing cat, a porcupine, a green mamba, a polar bear, and the sweetest baby pangolin in the world. With only curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime — and they just might save the world after all. 

Synopsis: Sometimes at the darkest hour, hope shines the brightest… When Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians – a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight – Col must travel to Blitz-bombed-London to save his sister. But there are darker forces at work, even than the Nazi bombings. Soon Col is pursued by the terrifying Midwinter King, who is determined to bring an eternal darkness down over everything.

Synopsis: After his adventure on the Highland Falcon, amateur sleuth Hal Beck is excited to embark on another journey with his journalist uncle. This time, they’re set to ride the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco. Hal mostly keeps to himself on the trip, feeling homesick and out of place in America. But he soon finds himself drawn into another mystery when the young daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing! Along with new friends—spunky 13-year-old Mason and his younger sister, Hadley—Hal races against the clock to find the missing girl before the California Comet reaches its final destination.

Synopsis: Leonard has never had a name. Or a body. Or a best friend. But he is excited to try being a human. On their three-hundredth-birthday, every alien from Leonard’s home galaxy gets to spend a month in the body of an Earth Creature. Leonard was supposed to become a forest ranger in Yellowstone National Park – but there was a mix-up. And now he’s stuck as a stray cat. Luckily for Leonard, he meets a young human called Olive – and together they set out on a journey to find home. 

Synopsis: Emily must battle the greatest evil that has threatened The Midnight Hour. Can she keep its magic from leaking into the real world? They must have come from under beds, out of mirrors, up from caves, and down from attics, all out of the darkness and into the moonlight. They were the Night Folk, and this was their world. Now that Emily knows that her blood ties her to The Midnight Hour, she feels more connected to this frozen pocket of time than ever. But not only does she have to come to terms with her new identity as a Pooka, her parents also had to go and have another baby. And how weird is that? Life is feeling frustrating from all angles… But when Emily begins to encounter strange happenings within The Midnight Hour, her worst fears are confirmed: there is a hole in the Hour and it is leaking magic. Whoever is going through it is making the tear worse and worse, posing a threat to the survival of the whole world. With Emily’s parents distracted with the new baby, it’s up to Emily to find the hole and help fix it. 

Synopsis: The first in a funny, deliciously dark, three-part series of twisted classics, written in verse by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Freya Hartas. A yellow moon hangs in a satin sky the night Cinderella, barefoot and in hand-me-downs, slips at the top of the stairs … and dies. But not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, Cinderella goes forth as ZOMBIERELLA. With her skin as cold as ice and her faithful horse Lumpkin back by her side, can she seek revenge on her three cruel, fake sisters, once and for all? Crawl out of the grave and step into your mushroom carriage for this haunting and humorous adventure of the undead girl searching for her happily ever after.

Synopsis: Deep within the mountain, a great creature stirred in its sleep. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and its wings jerked wide open…When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China he doesn’t know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. They have been trapped since an epic battle with the Dragon of Death and need the children’s help to set them free before terrible evil is unleashed on the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction? 

Synopsis: Twig is the last surviving apprentice of the great wizard Ripplemintz, which, as a job, is just as terrifying as it sounds. Oh Ripplemintz always means well, but for a wizard of such high regard he really does make an awful lot of mistakes. And who’s always left to clear them up? That’s right – Twig. So when Ripplemitz’s most powerful spell is let loose on the world, off Twig goes to catch it. And catch it he does, except… not quite in the way that he intended. Because, instead of catching it in an enchanted jar, Twig sort of… well… catches it in… HIMSELF.

Synopsis: Milo, loyal to his double-crossing, business-mogul father, has taken a trip to Black Hole Lake, leaving Lucy to continue her search into alien life and the Truth that she knows is out there. Milo’s discovery of a sinister, dark creature in the Lake will put them both in terrible danger and also – if they survive their adventure – make them friends again.

Synopsis:  Tamarind never knew her Indian mum, Chinty, who died soon after she was born. So when she arrives at her ancestral home, a huge mansion in the Himalayas surrounded by luxuriant gardens, she’s full of questions for her extended family. But instead of answers, she finds an ominous silence – and a trickle of intriguing clues: an abandoned hut, a friendly monkey, a glowing star ring, and a strange girl in the garden who calls herself Ishta. Slowly, Tamarind unravels a mystery at the heart of who she is …

Synopsis: Welcome to the dazzling new world of Quicksmiths, where you will encounter Strange Energy, the Mowl, Wormholes, Dark Forces and the tantalising riddle of the Ark of Ideas. When Kip Bramley receives a cryptic invitation, delivered by a beetle shaped drone which appears to be breathing, his world will change forever. Soon he finds himself chasing riddles and solving puzzles on a crazy treasure hunt set 400 years earlier by a mysterious genius. As things get dangerous, it seems much more is at stake for Kip and his family than winning top marks at his strange new school…

Synopsis: A haunting story of friendship, courage, time-travel and a very special crow. It is January 6th 1928, a few days before the Great Flood. Glory Bobbin, a twelve year-old orphan, works at The Frippery and Fandangle Emporium creating jewellery with her secret assistant, a peculiar crow. The river is about to burst its banks and a snow storm has engulfed the town when she meets treasure-hunting mudlark, Needle Luckett, who has travelled through time to reach Inthington. Can two children and a crow save the fourteen lives endangered by the flood? Can they change the future?

Synopsis: Xar and Wish are on the final leg of their journey. First stop: The Mines of Unhappiness. Here, starvation is never far away for the Magical creatures who toil in its horrible depths. Xar and Wish must escape and fast; Xar needs to take control of his ever-growing Witchstain, and Wish must achieve her Destiny. But the Tazzelwurm is in their way, a grotesque monster who threatens to block every entrance. Time is not on their side, but the forests are calling them. Will their combined strength be enough for the BIGGEST quest so far; to defeat the Kingwitch once and for all?

Synopsis: Aveline Jones loves reading ghost stories, so a dreary half-term becomes much more exciting when she discovers a spooky old book. Not only are the stories spine-tingling, but it once belonged to Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again. Intrigued, Aveline decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance.Now someone… or something, is stirring. And it is looking for Aveline.

Synopsis: Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world. But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.

Synopsis: October and her dad live in the woods. They sleep in the house Dad built for them and eat the food they grow in the vegetable patches. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They read the books they buy in town again and again until the pages are soft and yellow – until next year’s town visit. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that’s the way it is. Until the year October turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. It’s the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

Synopsis: Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets and families must make offerings to appease their ancestors. She’s homesick for her Danish hometown and isn’t sure she fits in with the ‘happy family’ of her father, her step-mother and twin step-brothers. As Freja tries to settle into her new life, a mysterious girl in a white dress starts to appear to her, seeming to beckon her on. Following this figure, Freja begins to unravel an old family mystery – one that must be solved before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from secrets long-buried. 

WWW Wednesday

I’m currently listening to Murder Most Unladylike on Borrowbox and, so far, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve started reading Small Spaces for Middle Grade Marvels book club which is just as spooky as I thought it would be. I’m also reading Dragon Mountain which is a really fun read so far. I think the dragons are going to be brilliant.

I’ve finished three books this week, mostly over the weekend. I read an e-book of Lark on Borrowbox as I’d heard so many great things about it, and it won the 2020 Carnegie Medal so I really wanted to try it. Brothers Nicky and Kenny, along with their dog, go on a trip across the moors and find themselves in a dangerous situation. I found this a really powerful and poignant read, one that definitely tears at the heartstrings. The relationship between the brothers is beautifully portrayed with their close bond shining through. I also finished listening to The Secret Garden on Borrowbox. It cements itself as one of my favourite ever classic children’s books. There is something so wonderfully cosy and comforting about going back to read childhood favourites. I visited The Rocketship Bookshop in Salisbury at the weekend and made a few purchases. One of them was Clifftoppers: The Fire Bay Adventure which I read when I came home. I had read the first one Clifftoppers: The Arrowhead Moor Adventure, and now need to get my hands on the third book in the series, The Thorn Island Adventure. I even managed to post a review on the day I read it – I think that’s a first for me!

I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of The Beast and the Bethany (which is gorgeous) for an upcoming Blog Tour, and am so looking forward to reading it as it sounds like a brilliantly fun read.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by: Julie Pike
Cover Illustration:  Dinara Mirtalipova
Published by: Oxford University Press (OUP)

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

“But I’m sure if you try you’ll come to love breathing Spells as much as me.”

This book in three words:

MAGIC, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

The Last Spell Breather is a truly amazing debut novel with stunning world-building, both horrifying and adorable characters, and sublime story-telling which had me devouring it in one sitting.  It was one of my absolute favourite books last year, and I’m so looking forward to seeing what the author writes next.

This magical system is absorbingly fascinating and weaves a unique enchantment of its own as the reader becomes more familiar with its origins … and the terrifying consequences misuse can lead to.

A truly gripping, magical story: you can read my full review here.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

Six for Sunday

The August theme for Six for Sunday, hosted by A Little But a Lot is Let’s Celebrate Colour and today’s prompt is for Wintery Colours.  I’ve decided to go for books on my TBR that I’ve had for a while, but just haven’t managed to read yet as I have SO many books to read! I really, really do intend to read them before the end of the year, and they’s all make brilliant winter reads.

Goodreads Synopsis

Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain… Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Percival, set off into the unknown. They will face terrifying bat caves, poisonous apple groves, outraged vultures, argumentative mushrooms and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.

Goodreads Synopsis

Marina’s father, a naval captain, has been away for most of her life – certainly since her mother died – and yet Marina feels the pull of an ocean she’s never known. When sent to boarding school to learn to be a lady, Marina decides instead to stow away on her father’s ship. A perilous voyage awaits – but where are they sailing to and why, and what has it to do with the dark shape in the deep that seems to be following them?

Goodreads Synopsis

A magical, captivating tale of adventure set in imperial Russia. St Petersburg, Russia 1725. Katinka Dashkova is running for her life because everything she knows is changing. Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the dwarf are different. That’s why they are part of Peter the Great’s Circus of Curiosities. But the Tzar is dead and they must flee the Winter Palace. Guided by a special map, they set out across Russia running for their lives. An enthralling and delicious blend of history and fiction.

Goodreads Synopsis

Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan. As the pair journey across a snowy wilderness, they are pursued by a vengeful sorceress and her pack of shadow wolves. The children will need every ounce of courage – and a whisper of magic – if they are to survive

Goodreads Synopsis

Tessa discovers the healing power of wishes when she sets out to find a missing Barbegazi, said to live in the mountains near her village. Meeting one is only the beginning of an adventure that unites generations and teaches Tessa that trust is at the heart of the best relationships. A delightful story about families, love and learning that some secrets are best kept secret – forever.

Goodreads Synopsis

Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.